Brands at Work were the stars of the show at the inaugural V Awards last Friday (3 September), picking up three awards on the night for Best Internal Communications Event, Best Agency (less than 40 employees), and the Grand Prix best overall award.
The agency’s Managing Partner Karen Kadin said: “It was a truly electrifying evening at the stunning new Nobu Hotel London Portman Square on Friday night. Stepping out from behind my laptop screen and being back in a bustling ballroom filled with industry peers and friends gave me such a buzz.
“This event recognised the creativity, ingenuity, and resilience of the events industry over the past 18 months. It was the greatest honour to stand shoulder to shoulder (and not in a Zoom gallery for once) with some of the greatest talent in our industry. We all rose to the challenge, and better yet, we did it together. We didn’t let creativity get cancelled even when live events did. We did what we all do best. We pivoted. We innovated. We invented. We designed. We grafted. We delivered awesome experiences when the world needed connection and community most.
“I am so utterly proud of all of us in this amazing industry and I’m in awe of my wonderful, unstoppable, ingenious herd at Brands at Work. We were absolutely gobsmacked to win 3 awards – Best Internal Comms Event, Best Agency of the Year (Under 40 Staff) and the Grand Prix. These awards mean so much to us – even in the face of adversity, we are breaking boundaries, standing strong and defying the odds.”
Here, we share what made the agency’s entries stand out from the crowd…
Best Agency (less than 40 employees)
Judges said the resilience, tenacity and innovation displayed by all agencies in this category was truly outstanding. Despite the challenges posed by the pandemic, Brands at Work had a impressive year in 2020 and continued that success into 2021, making it a worthy winner of the Best Agency (less than 40 employees) Award.
The agency – a 22-strong team of creative challengers – designs and delivers creative communications campaigns and content-led B2B, employee and consumer marketing events across virtual, hybrid and in person.
Having delivered broadcast events for 10+ years, the agency was well positioned for the pivot to virtual. Although online events certainly played to the team’s strengths in creative content production, Brands at Work set about becoming experts in the latest tech, exploring all available platforms and plug-ins, testing their limitations, and finding creative ways to maximise their performance so they could advise clients on the best solution to meet their needs.
Throughout 2020, the agency continued to support team development and wellbeing through virtual experiences to ensure everyone felt engaged, informed, included, and connected. Initiatives included Monday morning meetings to start the week with togetherness and positivity, masterclasses on Creative Copywriting and Design Thinking to Budget Management as well as wellbeing workshops, giving everyone an allowance to create a healthy WFH environment and curating quirky online experiences such interactive theatre shows, Banksy street-art classes and virtual puppy therapy.
Brands At Work converted all but one of its pre-booked 2020 in-person events into virtual engagements, had 100% client retention throughout 2020 & 2021 and an 80% pitch win rate in 2020, winning an unprecedented seven new clients between March and December. This further diversified its client roster to include tech, healthcare, finance, professional services and FMCG, while the increase in virtual delivery last year helped improve profitability putting the agency in a strong position for future growth.
Best Internal Communications Event
Becton Dickinson – Medication Delivery Solutions (MDS) – MDS EMEA Sales Kick Off
Having engaged Brands at Work in early 2020 to deliver its in-person Sales Kick Off, Becton Dickinson’s MDS team decided to move the meeting online in the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak. Brands at Work produced a three-day event with a ‘red-thread’ narrative that strategically placed MDS associates in the centre of a live game. They became secret agents in an online spy thriller where their mission was to save the future of healthcare.
With the support of professional performers from an immersive theatre company, the agency designed a choose-your-own-adventure-style experience where associates controlled the outcomes in a high-stakes digital drama. Working in teams – and using the knowledge they’d gained from the business sessions – associates applied their decision-making skills against the clock, to save the day.
Delivered in bite-sized ‘episodes’ between business sessions, the story was designed to allow associates to self-drive their experience and ‘own’ the outcomes. The result was an empowered workforce whose mindsets had shifted from ‘passive’ to ‘active’ and who had seen the impact of their decisions play out, in real time.
“We have already started to see the behaviour change in associates, who have been inspired to use their new skills and mindsets to become more strategic sales advisors to our customers,” said a Senior Events & Business Associate at Becton Dickinson.